39 overseas polling centers see no voters in first 3 days
FOREIGN Undersecretary Rafael Seguis has expressed dismay over the zero turnout of voters in 39 of the 85 Philippine embassies and consulates abroad in the first three days of overseas voting, urging the ambassadors “to lead by example” in the right of suffrage.
He said the Overseas Voting Secretariat (OVS) of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was tracking the heads and staff of embassies and consulates who registered for overseas voting but had not cast their ballots.
“It’s disappointing that there are embassies and consulates with zero votes so that not even our own diplomatic and consular personnel voted,” Seguis told the Inquirer.
He said, “There should be no embassies and consulates with zero voter turnout if the ambassadors, officers and staff lead by example and vote first.”
Only one percent
He said overseas Filipinos who voted in the first three days only reached 13,125, or one percent of the 1.37 million total registered overseas voters.
Seguis said overseas voter turnout had been on a steady decline in the last 12 years since many Filipinos found it difficult to get from their work places to the voting precincts.
But the most alarming reason why Filipinos do not participate in overseas voting is “political apathy and distrust in our political system.”
Overseas voters have one month to cast their ballots, from April 9 to May 9.
Seguis said that based on initial reports, 39 embassies and consulates recorded no votes from April 9 to 11. Most of these embassies are in the Americas and Europe.
Figures obtained by the Inquirer showed Filipinos in the Americas have the lowest interest with only 87 voters so far out of the 275,729 registered voters.
DFA records showed the Middle East and Africa had the most registered voters at 593,772, but the number of voters in the first three days was only 6,055.
Asia Pacific has a total of 344,848 registered voters but only 5,405 voters showed up in the first three days. Most of them were Filipino workers in Singapore, with 2,259 voters, and Hong Kong with 1,128 voters, both in the first three days.
DFA records showed that Europe had 1,578 voters in the first three days, but the number did not even reach one percent of the total 161,718 registered voters.
Among the embassies with zero votes in the Americas were those in Brasilia, Ottawa, Santiago, Mexico, Toronto and Washington, as well as consulates in Chicago, Honolulu.